Tomorrow night will be the beginning of the end of the 2009-2010 college basketball season. It's really a sad time in any sports fan's life to see a season come to an end. There's no way in life we could've ever predicted where we would be at today in this tournament. It is guaranteed that a #5 seed will be in that national title game, and we will definitely have a rabid fan base represented in that title game. (either the elitist Cameron Crazies, or the vile miscreants from West Virginia)
So at this time, I'm going to attempt to predict who we will be seeing play on Monday night...why? I have no clue, doesn't make any sense to predict the unpredictable, but its fun to do anyway so here goes nothing...
National Semifinal Game #1: #5 Butler vs. #5 Michigan State - First off, can we stop with the 'Hoosiers' references to this Butler team? Please? Its just becoming highly annoying and I don't believe the comparison fits. First off....Butler has black people on their team. I don't remember ever seeing anyone on Hickory High named "Shelvin". Secondarily, Butler has ATHLETES! These dudes play as tough a man defense as I've seen in awhile. Gordon Hayward is being projected as a mid-to-late first round pick right now and he's only a sophomore. From Chad Ford:
There's no need to go overboard on Hayward. Even if you tried, it would be hard to engage in too much hyperbole. He's not that type of player. But if you watched him in the big moments for Butler, you could see why a number of GMs feel he's an NBA player. His versatility, toughness and court awareness are terrific. He's also a terrific shooter -- despite the fact that his jump shot hasn't been falling all season. In virtually every way, he's a better prospect than Mike Dunleavy was coming out of college. Dunleavy didn't deserve to be a top-three pick, and neither does Hayward. But late lottery to the middle of the first round? That's not out of the question.
But this isn't just a love affair with Butler, but Michigan State has found a way to have their other players come to the forefront. Without a doubt, the loss of Kalin Lucas has been huge...but one man's loss becomes another man's opportunity. Raymar Morgan has continued to be a leader for this team, yet its abundantly clear that Durrell Summers has taken over as the alpha dog for Michigan State. Averaging 22 ppg since the loss of Lucas, Summers is finally showing the ability that lauded him as a top recruit of Tom Izzo. Izzo, the same man that Kenny has crowned as "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" (maybe we need to get Izzo a Dos Equis marketing deal) finds ways to bring greatness out of his players.
This game will be a barnburner, because I think Butler's athletes are equivalent to Michigan State's. The difference will be coaching, Izzo's a legend, period. Brad Stevens? Dude barely looks old enough to get a drink. But behind that babyface is a stone-cold killer. With that being said...
Butler 61, Michigan State 57.
National Semifinal Game #1: #2 West Virginia vs. #1 Duke - The game of all games, this should be the national championship game but because the NCAA would rather change the tournament from 65 to 96 teams than to re-seed the Final Four with the highest-to-lowest ranked teams but oh well...
West Virginia is just an interesting team. They remind me of the Golden State Warriors from a few years ago. They got a bunch of guys that are all 6'8" and play like 3 positions and can do a bit of everything. Da'Sean Butler is the business and reminds me a ton of Stephen Jackson. He doesn't get nearly enough credit for the work he's done with leading this team and he has to do EVERYTHING. Bring the ball up, shoot 3's, guard the other teams best player, and distribute the ball...dude is like affirmative action gone bad on the basketball court. I believe this is good karma for WVU, because we all know that the Mountaineers should've been a #1 seed in this tournament and Duke at the very least should not have been the #3 overall team in this tournament. Huggins would never "intentionally" talk down about Duke, but that's who he was referencing when the tournament field was announced. I think this is exactly what Huggins wanted, to prove how good his team really is.
Now here's the funny thing, after going on a week-long soliloquy on my disdain for Duke I've mellowed on one thing about this team.
Coach K is a helluva coach, period.
The fact that he has basically taken this team and said "You three...Smith, Scheyer and Singler. You are the only 3 players allowed to shoot the basketball. You four...Thomas, Zoubek, Plumlee Brothers...the only thing I want you to do is play defense, rebound the ball, and foul real real hard. That's it. You do anything else, your scholarship will go to buying shoes in Haiti." And this simple philosophy has been genius! Its astounding really, because who thinks to do something like that? Too many coaches try to fit players into their system, Coach K did the opposite and said "what can player X do" then fit him into a roll on the team. Plus, they play man-to-man defense like their 3-series BMW was on the line. With that being said...
There's no way in hell I'll pick Duke to win, unless they played Texas.
West Virginia 74, Duke 71.
We're 24 hours away from Final Four greatness. Your boy Ed is attempting to "Shock The World" live in Indianapolis. Who's playing for the title on Monday night? Weigh in and discuss.